CSUSM First Year Programs and the Common Read
The following prompts have been adapted from UCLA’s Between the World and Me Facilitation Guide. Instructors, please visit the resources on the righthand side of this guide and ask your librarian for additional ways to integrate the Common Read into your classes!
1. This novel was written in the form of a letter from a father to his son discussing race relations in the United States.
a. Have your parents or family members ever talked to you about the topic of race? Are your views different from theirs and have you ever had a dialogue about this with them?
b. What are some of the worries your family may have as you embark in this new chapter of your life?
c. Imagine you are a family member writing a letter to yourself about being a first year college student. What would you say to yourself in this letter? What advice would you give?
d. How has your experience growing up in your hometown different or the same from your parent(s)/guardians?
2. Imagine your life in chapters or parts, like the author does.
a. What would your chapters be, what are the defining moments or experiences you write about, and why?
b. Thinking of those chapters, select a song -- or film, show, book, or other creative work-- that characterizes each of these moments.
c. What does looking back on them and comparing them to one another reveal to you about yourself at these times in your life?
d. Additional activity: create a playlist to share with classmates.
3. Coates says his college education was very different from what he expected.
a. Reflect on this statement: “It began to strike me that the point of my education was kind of discomfort, was the process that would not award me my own special Dream but would break all the dreams” (p. 52).
b. As you enter your first year, what do you expect to learn from your college experience? What dreams do you hope to fulfill during your time here at CSUSM?
4. We are all human beings with many intersectionalities in our identities and, at times, some parts of our identities may be more prominent than others throughout our lives.
a. Have you ever tried to escape, hide, or downplay an aspect(s) of your identity? Why? Were you successful in this endeavor?
b. Coates writes: “I wanted you to be conscious, to understand that to be distanced, if only for a moment, from fear is not a passport out of the struggle” (p. 127). What do you think he means, and why?